Contemporary African American and Black British Women Writers: Narrative, Race, Ethics brings together British and American scholars to explore how, in texts by contemporary black women writers in the U. S. and Britain, formal narrative techniques express new understandings of race or stimulate ethical thinking about race in a reader. Taken together, the essays also demonstrate that black women writers from both sides of the Atlantic borrow formal structures and literary techniques from one another to describe the workings of structural racism in the daily lives of black subjects and to provoke readers to think anew about race. Narratology has only recently begun to use race as a category of narrative theory. This collection seeks both to show the ethical effects of narrative form on individual readers and to foster reconceptualizations of narrative theory that account for the workings of race within literature and culture.
Introduction: Narrative Theory and Contemporary Black Women Writers
Jean Wyatt and Sheldon George
Part 1: African American Women Writers: Narrative Form, Race, Ethics
Chapter 1. At the Crossroads of Form and Ideology: Disidentification in Claudia Rankine’s Citizen
Catherine Romagnolo, Professor of English, Lebanon Valley College, USA
Chapter 2. "She was miraculously neutral": Feeling, Ethics and Metafiction in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah
Jennifer Terry, Associate Professor of English, Durham University, UK
Chapter 3. Ableism and the Reproduction of Racial Difference in Nella Larsen’s Passing and Toni Morrison’s "Recitatif"
Milo Obourn, Associate Professor of English, Brockport State University, USA
Chapter 4. "When We Speak of Otherness": Narrative Unreliability and the Ethics of Othering in Toni Morrison’s Jazz and Home
Herman Beavers, Professor of English and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, USA
Chapter 5. Learning to Listen in Jesmyn Ward’s Sing, Unburied, Sing
Stephanie Li, Professor of English, Indiana University Bloomington, USA
Chapter 6. Maternal Sovereignty: Destruction and Survival in Jesmyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones
Naomi Morgenstern, Associate Professor of English and American Literature, University of Toronto, Canada
Chapter 7. Narrating the Raced Subject: Toni Morrison’s Jazz and the Literature of Modernism
Sheldon George, Professor of English, Simmons University, USA
Part 2: Black British Women Writers: Narrative Form, Race, Ethics
Chapter 8. Swing Time: Zadie Smith’s Aesthetic of Active Ambivalence
Daphne Lamothe, Associate Professor Africana Studies, Smith College, USA
Chapter 9. Zadie Smith’s Narratives of the Absurd: A Social Vision Represented through Humor
Sarah Ilott, Lecturer in English and Film, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
Chapter 10. Buchi Emecheta: Storyteller, Sociologist, and Citizen of the World
Pamela Bromberg, Professor of English, Simmons University, USA
Chapter 11. "Where are you (really) from?" Transgender ethics, ethics of unknowing, and transformative adoption in Jackie Kay’s Trumpet and Toni Morrison’s Jazz
Pelagia Goulimari, English, University of Oxford, UK
Chapter 12. White Allyship and Narrative Dissonance in Andrea Levy’s Small Island
Agata Szczeszak-Brewer, Professor of English, Wabash College, USA
Chapter 13: "Civis Romana sum": Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe and the Emancipatory Poetics of (Multi-) Cultural Citizenship
Deirdre Osborne (Reader in English Literature, Goldsmiths, University of London)
Chapter 14. Reinventing the Gothic in Oyeyemi’s White is for Witching: Maternal Ethics and Racial Politics
Jean Wyatt, Professor of English, Occidental College, USA
"This is such an important volume for developing an underexplored area of critical theory, and there is a sense of urgency about the endeavor of this collection, shared across essays. It establishes an excellent foundation for future work in the field."
--Helen Cousins (Newman University), Postcolonial Text Vol 16 No 2 (2021)
"Working at the intersection of race and gender, the insightful and engaging essays collected herein open up space for readers to better understand their own ethical positioning by better understanding the nuances of narrative as a means of ethical communication."
--James J. Donahue, SUNY Potsdam, New York, US
"Offering an important corrective to the notion that black-authored works are little more than social texts, the fourteen contributors to Wyatt and George’s collection make a compelling and spirited case for the rigorous analysis of literary form in the works of black women authors. This is an important and innovative book that will help to reorient and reenergize the scholarly conversation and critical practice surrounding the works of contemporary African American and Black British women writers."
--J. Brooks Bouson, Loyola University Chicago, Chicago, US